Panna cotta recipe for two people. Panna cotta is cooked cream set with gelatin. Top it with fresh cherries soaked in whiskey for a romantic dessert for two people.


If you’ve never made a panna cotta recipe before, I’m here to tell you just how crazy easy it is! If you’ve never had panna cotta before, I’m here to tell you that it’s like an elevated form of pudding.

This dessert tastes like cherries and cream, and is one of my favorite summer desserts.  The vanilla flavors in a good quality whiskey will be accented by the vanilla in the cream, so use your favorite high-quality whiskey. We’re only using a splash; you can spare it, I hope!

What is panna cotta?

Panna cotta is something that I only ordered at restaurants for the longest time. I loved a restaurant in Sacramento called XX that would serve it with a seasonal fruit compote on top that was always changing. The silky, creamy base is a perfect foil for any type of fruit.

Panna cotta is essentially a sweet milk and cream mixture thickened or set with gelatin.

Are you afraid of cooking with gelatin? I hear you–it can be intimidating. There’s good news, though–the first step in my recipe below eliminates any risk of working with gelatin. We’re going to bloom the gelatin, or soak it in a small amount of liquid before combining it with the rest of the liquid. When we bloom or prove the gelatin, we’re guaranteed to have perfect results in the end. Blooming gelatin prevents any chance for lumps, and also ensures the mixture will set properly. I talk a little later about things that could prevent a panna cotta from setting. But, if you follow my recipe exactly, you will have a smooth, silky creamy dessert that is one step up from pudding.

If you’er wondering how panna cotta and pudding are different, it’s that panna cotta is ever so slightly thicker. Pudding doesn’t hold its shape, though it is firm. Panna cotta can technically be molded into a shape and then dumped out to serve.

There’s a coconut panna cotta recipe in my third cookbook Sweet & Simple: Dessert for Two that is completely dairy-free, if you’re looking for that option. My friend Sherrie featured it on her site when my book was first released!

How to make panna cotta:

  1. First, add the milk to a small sauce pan, but do not turn on the heat yet.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let it sit. This is called ‘blooming the gelatin’ and makes sure each grain of gelatin soaks up some liquid; it also prevents clumps!
  3. After 5 minutes, now it’s time to turn on the heat. Cook the milk and gelatin over a medium-low heat, just until the gelatin dissolves. It’s very important not to let the milk mixture boil at all. Stir constantly and never walk away.
  4. Finally, add the heavy cream and sugar, and continue to heat for about 5 minutes on the heat. This just warms the cream and makes sure the sugar dissolves completely.
  5. Now it’s time to turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla. I never add vanilla over the heat because I don’t want to cook out its delicate flavor. 
  6. Pour the mixture into two serving cups, and chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 48 hours, in the fridge. Wrap the top tightly with plastic wrap to prevent any odors seeping into the very permeable cream and milk.
  7. An hour before serving, marinate your fruit of choice and then serve the panna cotta ice cold with the fruit spooned on top.

Panna cotta fruit toppings to consider:

Today, I made whiskey cherries, which are just fresh cherries, pitted and halved, soaked in a bit of whiskey and sugar. Yes, it’s exactly as delicious as it sounds. But if you don’t drink whiskey (bless you), just use any type of fruit you love. 

  1. Peaches marinated in amaretto (an almond liquor).
  2. Apricots poached in a bit of lavender tea.
  3. Strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier or other orange liquor.
  4. Blackberries soaked in fresh lime juice and sugar.
  5. Raspberries splashed with Framboise (which happens to be my favorite liquor ever).

The only fruit I wouldn’t suggest is pineapple, because the enzymes in pineapple prevent gelatin from setting, and if you top this panna cotta recipe with pineapple, it will start to break down the perfectly set custard. There’s a reason pineapple jello doesn’t exist, my friends! Here’s a very scientific article explaining that you could use canned pineapple, just not fresh pineapple, ok?

I happen to think this panna cotta recipe perfectly portioned for two would be a great Valentine’s Day dessert for two! If you like to stay in for Valentine’s Day, check out my Romantic Meals for Two at home or my Chicken Dinners for Two, and follow it up with one of my desserts. 

If this panna cotta for two doesn’t speak to you, I have a whole Valentine’s Day Easy Romantic Desserts for Two recipe roundup; I know you can find something you love on there!

If you make any of my recipes for your special someone on the big day, please let me know! I would love to hear about it. If a marriage proposal results from any of my recipes, then I definitely need to know about that! To be honest, the easiest way to contact me is instagram.

Yield: 2 cups

Panna Cotta Recipe

Panna Cotta Recipe

Panna cotta recipe for two with fresh cherries marinated in whiskey on top.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes


  • For the panna cotta:
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cherry compote:

  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted cherries
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


First, make the panna cotta: In a small saucepan add the milk. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium and cook while stirring until the gelatin dissolves. Do not let the milk boil. This should take about 3-5 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and sugar to the milk and continue cooking while stirring for another 3-5 minutes.

Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Divide the mixture between two serving dishes. I prefer small wine glasses. Chill the mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight.

An hour before serving, make the cherry topping by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature. To serve, scoop the cherries on top of the panna cottta.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 454Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g

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